Monday, March 13, 2017

Keening




Keening is usually associated with professional mourners - people (usually women) who are actually paid to publicly express the sorrow the family can't or won't express at a funeral. In ancient times, it was traditional practice and showed respect for the person who died. Weird, huh? In the Middle East, they were the wailing women, and you'll find them in the Bible in several places, like Jeremiah 9:17-18:

Thus says the Lord of hosts:

“Consider and call for the mourning women,
That they may come;
And send for skillful wailing women,
That they may come.
 Let them make haste
And take up a wailing for us,
That our eyes may run with tears,
And our eyelids gush with water.

In Ireland, they were the keeners, and the sound they made was called "keening." It was a wail, yes, but more than that - it was a sound unlike any other kind of weeping. 

Keening, when it comes naturally, comes from a broken heart. It is beyond words - or perhaps in place of words -  that won't or can't come. It flows from sorrow so deep that there are no words to express it. You hold it in, because once started, it is so hard to stop that it leaves you panting for air. It is usually utterly private, something you try never to do in front of others. 

The Holy Spirit is actually very like a keener at times, who expresses to God, to our Abba Father, what we have no words for:

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.
For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought,
but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us
with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Romans 8:26
 
  It is no accident that Romans goes on to say in the next two verses:

Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, 
because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
 
And we know that all things work together for good
to those who love God,
to those who are the called according to His purpose. 

"All things work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose." Not some things. Not even most things. All things. Including those which may cause spontaneous keening. All things work together for good. Our Abba Father knows the end from the beginning. He knows far better than us what needs to happen in order for His purpose to be accomplished. This world, our world - our lives in this world - are the barest blip in comparison with eternity with Him. It doesn't have to make sense to us. It usually WON'T make sense to us. But all things work together for good, if you are among God's children. Somehow they do - in a way that we probably don't understand at the moment. 

When Jesus washed Peter's feet, He said, (John 13:7)

“You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”

That is true of far more than washing Peter's feet. It's true for me, today. It's true for you, too. Trust is not a feeling. Trust is a decision you make based on all that God is and all that He has promised to you in His word. That trust comes from your head and your will. Your heart will catch up eventually.  

Edit to add:  Sometimes the greatest disappointments in our lives come not from the events themselves but from thinking we knew what God was about and finding out we were wrong. Those "God is God and we are not" lessons can be painful, and yes, sometimes (at first) may result in spontaneous keening. It's basically disappointment with God, not with people or events. And knowing, then, that you are on the wrong side of God's will is a hard thing. We're talking big time wrestling with God, and something you need to deal with if you are going to keep your faith intact. Do you trust God or not? Do you believe His word or not? Is He working for good or not? These are major "make it or break it" faith testers.  And, just writing that, I can see why He might allow such a thing to happen. As hard as it is to go through, our faith needs to be tested.